This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: N/A (watching "Runaway Jury" on DVD ... great movie!)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
9. Field's pair : OSCARS
Sally Field won two Oscars, one for "Norma Rae", and one for "Places in the Heart" in 1984.
"Norma Rae" is a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called "Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance".
"Places in the Heart" is a 1984 drama about a Texas widow struggling with her family on her farm during the Great Depression.
15. Site of a college stadium that seats over 100,000 : ANN ARBOR
Ann Arbor is home to Michigan Stadium, where the University of Michigan plays football. It has the nickname of "The Big House", earned because of it's huge seating capacity of 106, 201. It's not the biggest football stadium in the country though. That honor belongs to Penn State's Beaver Stadium.
20. You might have one after spraying yourself : FAKE TAN
The most effective fake tans available today are not dyes or stains. Instead, they are sprays with active ingredient dihydroxyacetone (DHA). The DHA reacts chemically with the amino acids in the dead layer of skin on the surface of the body. Sounds a little risky to me ...
21. Kvetch : MOANER
The word "kvetch" of course comes to us from Yiddish, with "kvetshn" meaning "to complain" or "squeeze".
22. It's above 90 : A-AVERAGE
If a student gets a percentage of 90-100 in a class, he or she is awarded an A. An A-average means a percentage average of 90 or above.
23. Share letters? : OTC
Over-the-counter (OTC) trading of stocks is a way of trading directly mean two parties, as opposed to exchange trading in which trading occurs in an exchange.
26. Endings to some letters, for short : PSS
One adds a PS (postscriptum) at the end of a letter. A second postscriptum (or postscript) is a post postscriptum, a PPS.
27. Mr. ___ (old mystery game) : REE
The full name for the old mystery game is "Mr. Ree! The Fireside Detective." It was first published in 1937, and frankly, it sounds like a great game even by today's standards ...
30. Looney Tunes animator Friz : FRELENG
Friz Freleng was a cartoonist best known for his work with Warner Bros, on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He was largely responsible for developing some great characters, including Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam and Speedy Gonzales. And for all that, he won four Academy Awards.
33. Pugilists' org. : IBF
There are four major organizations that sanction world champion boxing. These are the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council, the World Boxing Organization and the IBF: the International Boxing Federation.
37. Firing squad?: Abbr. : NRA
The NRA is the National Rifle Association, and has been around since 1871. The group was founded as the American rifle Association, and had some celebrated presidents, including President Ulysses S. Grant. It's often been said that the NRA is the most powerful lobbying group in Washington.
38. Spots before one's eyes? : ADS
Advertisements are spots that one sees before one's eyes, if one is watching television, maybe.
41. Big pistol maker : BERETTA
Beretta is an Italian manufacturer of firearms. Beretta is an incredibly old company, and has been selling firearms since 1526! The company got a big boost of sales in the US in the eighties, when it's Beretta 92 pistol was selected by the US Army for use as its service handgun (although it was known as the "M9 pistol").
46. Grassy areas : SWARDS
Sward is another version of the word "swarth", and describes a grassy piece of land.
49. Storied gift givers : THE MAGI
Magi is the plural of the Latin word "magus", a term applied to someone who was able to read the stars. Hence, magi is commonly used with reference to the "wise men from the East" who followed the star and visited Jesus just after he was born.
50. Inability to get A's or B's? : TIN EAR
An inability to be able to distinguish between two notes, say and A or a B, could lead to someone being told they had a "tin ear".
52. Aspirin and such : ESTERS
An ester is an organic compound created by combing an organic acid and an alcohol. In the case of aspirin, the acid is salicylic acid, and the "alcohol" is acetic anhydride. The resulting ester is acetylsalicylic acid.
54. Element of radon or xenon : SHORT O
This is a cleverly worded clue. The O in both radon and xenon is a "short O".
2. Rating numbers : ONE TO TEN
Things are often rated on a scale of one to ten.
4. "Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful" novelist, 1981 : PATON
"Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful" is a novel by the South African author Alan Paton. The novel has an anti-apartheid theme, as does his most famous novel, "Cry, the Beloved Country".
6. London weekly, with "The" : OBSERVER
"The Observer" is published in the UK every Sunday. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.
7. Terrible twos responses : NOES
Yep the plural of "no" is "noes", and not "nos".
9. Book size : OCTAVO
Some common book formats/sizes are folio, octavo and quarto. For an octavo book sixteen pages of text are printed, eight pages on each side of a "full-size" piece of paper. The pages are formed by folding the sheet of paper three times in half, giving a group of sixteen pages printed on eight leaves (after separation). The size of the resulting pages of course depends on the size of the original sheet, but each page is one eight the size of that original (hence the name octavo). Nowadays the octavo size refers to books that are between eight and ten inches tall.
20. Descriptive of Snow White : FAIREST
In the Grimm fairy tale about Snow White, the evil queen asks her magical mirror, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?" The queen is routinely told that she is, until Snow White reached the age of sixteen, when the answer became Snow White. And that sparks off a whole boatload of trouble for poor Snow White.
22. Artist's place : ATELIER
An atelier is an artist's studio, as "atelier" is the French word for "studio" or "workshop".
31. Badminton dinks : NET SHOTS
In racquet sports, like badminton, a "dink" is a drop shot.
The game of badminton was developed in the mid-1700s by British military officers in India. There was already an old game of battledore and shuttlecock, so the creation of badminton was essentially the addition of a net and boundary lines for play. The game was launched officially as a sport in 1873 at Badminton House in Gloucestershire in England, giving the sport the name we know to do.
33. Beneath one's self-respect : INFRA DIG
The term "infra dig" means "beneath the dignity of". Infra dig is a colloquial abbreviation for the Latin words for "beneath the dignity of": infra dignitatem.
38. Balls with bands : AGATES
A playing marble made from agate, or a glass imitation, is called an agate. The agate leads to the marble having a banded appearance.
41. His last film was "The Harder They Fall," 1956 : BOGART
"The Harder They Fall" is a 1956 film noir movie about boxing, and was the last film in which Humphrey Bogart appeared before he passed away the following year. Bogie was diagnosed with esophageal cancer soon after shooting the movie. He must have been sick during shooting as many of his lines has to be dubbed in by another actor in post-production.
51. Chicago cable station : WGN
WGN America is a cable television network based in Chicago. The WGN name has long been associated with Chicago, and is the acronym for the former slogan of the Chicago Tribune: "World's Greatest Newspaper".